No Matter What You Call It, There’s Just No Evidence of A ‘Ferguson Effect’ or ‘Viral Video Effect’ on Crime


A while back we debunked the idea that demands for greater police accountability were undermining police work and putting more cops in harm’s way. To the contrary, despite politicized claims, on-duty officer deaths are dropping.

And now, a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice is tackling the other half of the ‘Ferguson effect,’ myth — that protests around the country have demoralized officers so severely, that crime is once again on the rise. They find no evidence of a Ferguson or ‘viral video’ effect (as FBI Director James Comey prefers to call it). Between 2014 and 2015 crime rates largely stayed level across the country’s 30 largest cities.  

Here are some key takeaways from the Brennan report:

  • In two-thirds of the cities examined, crime rates actually fell between 2014 and 2015. In  seven cities — Austin, Boston, Chicago, Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, and Seattle — crime rates fell by more than 7 percent.  (see table)
  • While there was an uptick in violent crime, by itself, Los Angeles accounted for more than half of the increase.
  • Similarly, while murder rates were up, three cities — Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — accounted for more than half of the increase.  


Also keep in mind that over the past 25 years crime rates have been falling dramatically. Property crime rates have fallen more than 40 percent since 1991. Violent crime rates have fallen by roughly 50 percent. Overall crime rates haven’t been this low since the late 1970s.

The U.S. is a much safer place today than it has been in a long time. Black Lives Matter protests and demands for more responsible policing don’t appear to be changing that.

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